- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Common sense could be the operative motto for the Grand Old Party as it seeks to articulate a viable message and identify appropriate standard bearers while the 2014 midterm season fires up and rattles down the campaign trail. The clock is ticking. But the thinkers are thinking.

“The best way to reach out and motivate establishment Republicans is to show them the compelling data that proves an integrated conservatism is the best way to win elections,” Frank Cannon, president of American Principles Project, tells Inside the Beltway.

“Social issues — particularly the abortion issue and religious liberty issue, properly framed — are helpful in mobilizing constituencies, such as women, young people and Hispanics, which establishment Republicans want to reach,” Mr. Cannon continues.

The nonprofit organization has a calling to identify and support local and national policies that “respect the dignity of the person” and lead to a flourishing society. Rigorous debate and advocacy, outreach and education play a part, as is the group’s insistence they will collaborate with all who embrace such principles.

“It is important that the financial interests in the conservative movement and the Republican Party work in concert with the grassroots. This is best accomplished when candidates promote both economic and social conservatism,” Mr. Cannon adds.

The organization, however, is in party mode Wednesday. Their second annual Red, White & Blue Gala gets underway at dusk in a historic hotel a few blocks north of the White House; guests have been encouraged to wear “cocktail attire” in those colors. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Redstate.com founder Erick Erickson and Mr. Cannon are the point men of the evening, and they are prepared to “outline the political landscape for 2014,” organizers say.

And the menu? A source reveals this: baby spinach salad with poached pear and Gorgonzola; seared filet mignon with wild mushrooms and brie; truffled mashed potatoes, fresh local broccolini and tricolored carrots; and chocolate espresso cake with vanilla butter cream. And special mystery guest offers a toast to Ronald Reagan at night’s end.

FOR THE LEXICON

“Para Bellum Labs”

— The name of the new Digital and Data Department of the Republican National Committee, meant to foster a “new tech-centered mindset” in the party, and increase visibility and credibility in the tech community. The department will host a future “political hackathon.” The effort is led by deputy chief of staff and chief digital officer Chuck DeFeo and chief data officer Azarias Reda.

“Para Bellum,” incidentally, means “prepare for war” in Latin. The word choice has already brought critics running; they point out that parabellum is also the name of a World War I-era machine gun, and later, a German pistol.

LENO: REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT?

We may never know the answer to that question. But one thing is for sure. NBC’s “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno beat up on Democrats more than he did Republicans, at least according to the numbers. Yes, there’s a painstaking study, released just as Mr. Leno exits his longtime late-night perch.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University analyzed 43,892 jokes about public figures and public affairs that Mr. Leno told between 1992 and January 24, 2014.

Here’s what they found: Democrats were the butt of 10,885 jokes, and Republicans were jabbed in 9,465 jokes. The biggest target of all was former President Bill Clinton, who drew 4,607. See more numbers in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.

Leno’s monologues focused on power and scandal, and Bill Clinton was the top twofer,” says Robert Lichter, who led the research and has a forthcoming book on the topic called “Politics Is A Joke: How TV Comedians Are Remaking Political Life,” from Westview Press.

IT’S ALL IN THE NUMBERS

The deadline for political campaigns of every persuasion to file 2013 year-end reports with the Federal Election Commission has come and gone.

“The reports delivered two big surprises. The Democrats are dominating the Republicans in fundraising. More surprising, perhaps, though, is that tea party and conservative SuperPACs raised around three times as much as GOP establishment SuperPACs,” says Mike Flynn, a Breitbart Big Government columnist, and political director of one of those organizations.

He points out that Democratic campaign committees collectively raised around $200 million, the Republican committees raised just over $170 million.

“The most interesting data from Friday’s reports is the surging financial strength of conservative SuperPACs. Karl Rove’s three SuperPACs collectively raised $6.1 million last year,” Mr. Flynn observes. “The Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, where I am political director, alone raised $6.4 million. The four largest conservative SuperPACs raised $20 million. GOP establishment SuperPACs raised just over $7 million.”

He concludes: “Donors haven’t stopped giving. They have just stopped giving to the Republican Party.”

AN EYE ON IRAN

So is somebody paying attention to the ever-fomenting threats against America? Why, yes. They are.

Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican; former CIA director James Woolsey, and Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney host an event Thursday titled “American security and the Iranian bomb: analyzing threats at home and abroad.” The learned gents will discuss the nuclear agreement with Iran, which took effect 16 days ago, and the implications for national security.

“Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon is the defining security threat of our generation,” observes David Bellavia, president of the host nonprofit group EMPact America and an Iraq war veteran. “This event will highlight how the Iranian nuclear threat could evolve, and what America can, and should, do about it.”

Mr. Bellavia’s organization is particularly concerned about protecting the nation’s critical infrastructures from threats that are nuclear in nature, or “naturally occurring electromagnetic pulse catastrophe.” The event can be viewed online beginning at 10:30 a.m. EST on Thursday. More information is available at HomelandThreats.com.

WHAT O’REILLY KNOWS ABOUT OBAMA

They quibbled about Benghazi and Obamacare, they had a combative moments. Still, President Obama and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly had an amicable parting when their Super Bowl Sunday interview ended prior to the game. Their encounter drew 4.2 million viewers, incidentally.

But Mr. O’Reilly appears to have learned about Mr. Obama.

“He just doesn’t believe that the stories and the questions that we brought up — even though I did tell him that they are unanswered situations they are still undefined — he doesn’t believe they are that important. It’s a simple as that,” Mr. O’Reilly said in an interview with Fox News in the aftermath.

“He sees himself as doing a good job for the country his vision is good, it will all work out. It’s an annoyance that I ask him questions, and that Fox News concentrates on these stories. Because he himself doesn’t believe they’re important.”

POLL DU JOUR

43,892: number of jokes about public affairs and public figures Jay Leno told during his 22 as host of NBC’s “Tonight Show”.

10,885: number of jokes Mr. Leno told about Democrats.

9,465: number of jokes he told about Republicans.

4,607: number of jokes told about Bill Clinton; 3,239: number told about George W. Bush.

1,026: number told about Al Gore; 1,011: number told about President Obama.

673: number told about Dick Cheney; 361: number told about Mitt Romney; 343: number told about George H.W. Bush; 300: number told about Sarah Palin.

Source: A Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University study of Mr. Leno’s political material between 1992 and 2014, released Tuesday.

Jokes, palindromes, double entendres to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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